Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 10, 2013

Officials support gun bill

Gooden refiles bill to allow prosecutors to carry firearms

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — State Rep. Lance Gooden has refiled House Bill 34. This bill would make it legal for district attorneys and prosecutors to openly carry a firearm. Gooden has refiled this bill during the special session of the Legislature that started last week.

Gooden said he filed the legislation in response to the murders of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike  McClelland, his wife Cynthia, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Haase earlier this year.

“After Mark's death, I asked Mike McClelland if there was anything the Legislature could do to help make him and his prosecutors safer,” Gooden said. “He didn't hesitate and told me they needed to be able to carry openly, just like other law enforcement officers. DAs and  (assistant) DAs face threats from defendants on a daily basis, so we must act to enure they have the option to carry a firearm for protection.”

Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee said he is in total support of this bill.

“This is a much-needed bill,” said McKee. “We can already carry a gun concealed, but it may be a deterrent if we can carry the gun like police officers, openly.”

McKee said, “I am hopeful the governor will open this bill up to committee. I will be more than willing to go to Austin to testify.”

Gooden filed a similar bill during the regular session. According to Gooden, in a move to kill as much pro-gun legislation as possible, the Democrat chairman of the committee refused to grant it a hearing. The bill never made it to the House floor for a vote.

“Rep. Gooden has done everything he can do to get the bill passed,” said McKee. “It's a good bill in the memory of Mike.”

It is now up to Texas Gov. Rick  Perry as to whether the HB 34 will be put on the agenda during the special session. The governor called the special session for redistricting purposes.  A representative from Gooden's office said the Governor is aware of the bill. They should possibly know whether the bill will make it to committee by  Monday, June 17.

Gooden said he supports legislation to allow all Texans to openly carry a gun, but has focused specifically on prosecutors' rights to protect themselves since the district attorney’s office murders in Kaufman County.